October 17, 2013
Pre-Incan Wari People Exercised Restraint In Establishing Its Culture
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A complex pre-Columbian America civilization that preceded the Inca Empire, the Wari didn't rule by pillage, plunder and iron-fisted bureaucracy alone.
A new study from Dartmouth College shows that the Wari people initially created loosely administered colonies to expand trade, provide land for settlers and tap natural resources across much of the central Andes.
The findings, published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, illuminates how early states evolved into empires in the area that later became the Inca imperial heartland.
The Wari Empire, which flourished from about AD 600-1000 in the Andean highlands, existed well before the Inca Empire’s 15th century beginnings. Researchers know very little about the Wari as there are no historical documents existing. Additionally, archaeologists are still debating their power and statecraft.
This study is the first large-scale look at the settlement patterns and power of the Wari. The majority of scholars believe that the Wari established strong centralized control of economics, politics, cultural and the military - much like their Inca successors. This centralized control would allow the Wari to govern the majority of the far-flung populations living across the central Andes. In contrast to this theory, the Dartmouth study suggests that while there was significant administrative power in the Wari civilization, they did not successfully transition most colonies into directly-ruled provinces.
"The identification of limited Wari state power encourages a focus on colonization practices rather than an interpretation of strong provincial rule," says Professor Alan Covey of the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth. "A 'colonization first' interpretation of early Wari expansion encourages the reconsideration of motivations for expansion, shifting from military conquest and economic exploitation of subject populations to issues such as demographic relief and strategic expansion of trade routes or natural resource access."
The researchers based their results on a systematic inventory of archaeological surveys covering nearly 1,000 square miles and GIS analysis of more than 3,000 archaeological sites in and around Peru's Cusco Valley. The analysis indicates that Wari power did not emanate continuously outward from Pikillacta, a key administrative center whose construction required a huge investment. In contrast to traditional interpretations from excavations at Wari sites, the locations of Wari ceramics indicated a more uneven, indirect and limited influence over the outlying settlements, instead, even at the height of their power.
Image Below: This is an aerial view of Pikillacta, facing toward the Cusco Basin. Credit: Department of Library Services, American Museum of Natural History